Brian Higgins will always hold a special place in Linfield lore as the quarterback of the 1998 Wildcats football squad that clinched the all-time record for consecutive winning seasons. Today, he has a growing family and successful career in Minneapolis
What have you been doing since graduating from Linfield?
In the summer of 1998, I was fortunate enough to land an internship with General Mills in their Consumer Foods Sales office in Portland. That opportunity led to a full time position following graduation and I’ve been working for them ever since. It’s a wonderful company with great brands (Cheerios, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury to name a few) and even better people. I’m particularly convicted on the latter since I was blessed to meet my wife, Misty, through General Mills as she works there too! I’ve moved around the country for different career opportunities, spending four years in Scottsdale, Ariz., two years in Minneapolis (where I met Misty), five years in Bentonville, Ark., and now back in Minneapolis. We have a 3-year-old son, Elijah, and 1-year-old daughter, Zoe, who keep us quite busy and have enriched our lives in so many ways.
What position at General Mills (or other company) would you ultimately like to hold?
I’ve been fortunate to hold several positions over the last 14 years and my current role is Director of Field Sales working with many of our regional grocery customers across the country. My goal is to continue making solid contributions and gaining experiences that will improve my leadership effectiveness.
Since moving to the Twin Cities, what adjustments have you had to make?
I remember interviewing for the internship and noting that the headquarters were in Minneapolis. I knew the internship was in Portland and thought that there was no way I’d have to worry about living in Minnesota! Well, here we are living here for the second time and we just love the Twin Cities. While the winter can be bitterly cold, the summer and shoulder seasons are terrific. We do miss our families which are in California and Texas but we make a point to travel and Skype often – especially now that we have kids.
What qualities did you develop at Linfield that have helped you prosper?
Coach (Ed) Langsdorf always said “Expect to Win” which I think captures the confidence you need to have in yourself to be successful – in any arena. That confidence and optimism always comes through preparation, which is something that I’ve definitely remained committed to. Coach (Jay) Locey spoke a lot about the fact that the one thing we have absolute control of in our lives is our attitude. It seems very basic but every every interaction I make is based on this very simple question. Team, Excellence, Attitude, Class. Words to live by.
What was your favorite class?
My favorite class at Linfield was probably Investments. It was a fun, challenging topic and featured great case studies. Also, there was plenty of competitiveness among the students in the class. That said, I’m a firm believer in Coach (Ad) Rutschman’s perspective that the athletics field is the best classroom on campus.
You were the starting quarterback during the 1998 season when Linfield clinched the national record for consecutive winning seasons. What are you memories of that season?
Our senior class was relatively small – I was the only senior on offense and think we only had six or seven on defense. We had been through some tough times in 1996, going 5-4 (gasp!) but finished strong in 1997 and were optimistic about 1998. We lost three of our top four receivers to injury during camp which cramped our style a bit early on. Fortunately, we had a killer defense with seniors Ryan Carlson, Justin Taylor, Mitch Chadwick and Joe Pate leading the way. They were really dominant. We started 4-0 and faced Willamette at the Catdome with a chance to move to 5-0 and clinch a winning season. They had beaten us three straight years so we were particularly motivated. It was a close, hard-fought game all the way. We drove 80 yards and scored with less than 1 minute to go and won 20-19. I’ll never forget the euphoria of the moment and also the relief that no one got crushed when those goal posts came down! We must have watched that video 20 times during film sessions on Monday! I’ll never forget how hard our team worked and that no one ever gave up. We had a great group of guys.
Do you stay in touch with what’s going on at Linfield? Any chance your children might attend the college some day?
I keep pretty close tabs on Linfield sports through the school’s website and catdomealumni.com (Ryan Carlson), and have been able to attend a few Linfield’s games out in the Midwest over the years (St. Thomas, St. John’s, Wisconsin-Stevens Point). It’s great to see how much small college information is available nowadays and the exposure Linfield gets through success on the field is just outstanding. I stay in touch with several classmates who have remained lifelong friends and we always discuss the latest Wildcat news.